Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gloria Hoover Markets The Edible Buckeye

The omnipresent “buckeye” confection, made of peanut butter and chocolate, is a Columbus institution. Postcards with the recipe printed on them can be found around town. The edible buckeye is a staple at football tailgating potlucks and I have to send them to my niece in California every Christmas.

But who organized these little morsels? I happened upon a 1970 Wonderful World of Ohio magazine and the mystery was solved.

Gloria Hoover won a “Best Rolled Cookies” blue ribbon with her grandmother’s anise-seed sugar cookie recipe at the Ohio State Fair in 1965. These cookies went on to win the coveted purple rosette for best cookies at the Fair, presented to her by none other than Art Linkletter.

She received calls from people wanting the cookies. Gloria, a former art and philosophy major at Denison University, was not particularly interested in becoming a cookie tycoon. But she succumbed to the growing demand and started a baking venture in a tiny upstairs room in Granville, Ohio.

This is where she developed the “Hetuck” cookie, which is a Native American word for buckeye. The first box of the new Hetuck cookies was delivered to Governor James Rhodes' office in Columbus. The Hetucks first outlets were in Granville, Newark, and Columbus. When soon-to-be president Richard Nixon spoke at a 1966 rally in Newark, Gloria was there to present him with Hetucks.

In April, 1967, congressman Clarence E. Miller of the 10th District of Ohio was sponsoring the planting of a buckeye tree on the Capitol grounds in Washington DC., Gloria flew to Washington and presented Hetucks to congressman William H. Harrison, great-great grandson of President William H. Harrison of Ohio.

By 1968 the Hoover cookie industry expanded to larger digs. Her wares now included Teresa’s Anise Cookies (Teresa was her grandmother’s name), Hetucks, Vanilla Sugar Cookies, and Pub and Mug Cookies.

Gloria hired others to bake, while she handled the sales and promotion, flying to conventions and shows. (Did Cheryl learn her cookies from Gloria?)

Gloria designed a “Wonderful World of Ohio” dress to help promote her products. Hetucks were marketed on special small trees with paper buckeye leaves and pretend cardinals. Especially coveted were the Hetucks packaged in a metal treasure chest.

But does anyone know of the Hetuck name anymore? Where did Hetucks leave off and the normal chocolate buckeye begin? Perhaps readers of the 1970 magazine seized chocolate and peanut butter in their own hands and took off with her idea.

Christine Hayes

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